‘I said “you have just made your father really proud”‘: Justin Gaethje reveals touching moment shared with emotional Khabib Nurmagomedov inside the octagon following the Dagestani star’s dominant win at UFC 254
- Justin Gaethje has revealed the touching moment he shared with Khabib
- The lightweight champion broke down in tears following his win at UFC 254
- Nurmagomedov has been rocked by the loss of his father Abdulmanap this year
- Gaethje, 31, revealed he told the UFC king that his father would be proud
The Highlight entered the lightweight title fight on the back of huge momentum having beaten perennial winner Tony Ferguson to earn his shot at the Dagestani king.
But Nurmagomedov demonstrated why he is one of the greatest fighters to grace the sport with yet another dominant performance, setting a frenetic pace in the first round before securing a triangle submission in the second.
Justin Gaethje has revealed what he told an emotional Khabib Nurmagomedov after UFC 254
The Highlight was seen consoling the Dagestani star following his win on Fight Island
And after earning his 29th career victory, Nurmagomedov let out a flood of emotion in the centre of the octagon, releasing months of built up agony following the untimely death of his father, Abdulmanap.
The 57-year-old died of coronavirus in a Moscow hospital in July, and his death has been agonising for the lightweight champion who idolised the man that nurtured and developed him into a UFC star.
Gaethje was seen consoling the 32-year-old while the pair were alone in the octagon, and the American has revealed the calming words he gave to the champion.
Nurmagomedov has been rocked by the loss of his father Abdulmanap (L) to coronavirus
‘I said “I haven’t had the chance to tell you that I am so sorry for your dad’s loss, but you have just made your father really proud,”‘ the fan-favourite told BT Sport.
Gaethje’s third career defeat comes as a blow but the 31-year-old is confident that he can bounce back.
‘Right now it hurts,’ he admitted. ‘There is not a lot of people that can make me feel better. This is on me. I need to go home and I need to deal with this on my own because I stepped in there alone.’
When interviewed by Jon Anik in the octagon after the bout, Gaethje said sharing the stage with Nurmagomedov made him feel ‘alive’.
Gaethje told Khabib that Abdulmanap would have been proud of his son after the victory
‘I felt alive. That’s why I step in here. Adrenaline, endorphins released. The only reason I stuck here was to give this main his praises. He is tough, he is so strong, he has made his father so proud.
‘I fight for a living. The best thing about getting choked out is there’s nothing really consequential to your long term health. I’m ready for the next one whenever. I’m in good shape, I don’t want to get too far. So six weeks, eight weeks.’
Following Khabib’s shock retirement from mixed martial arts, it won’t be too long before Gaethje gets another shot at the lightweight title, with The Highlight in the mix alongside Dustin Poirier, Tony Ferguson and Conor McGregor.